The federal judge presiding over the 3M earplugs MDL has terminated settlement mediations. Despite over sixteen bellwether trials, there is still no global settlement for over 200,000 3M earplugs lawsuits. While 3M’s bankruptcy maneuver has only further complicated the earplugs litigation, Judge Casey Rodgers ordered both parties to meet for settlement negotiations to resolve 3M earplugs hearing loss claims. However, after months of deliberation, Judge Rodgers concluded the 3M earplugs settlement negotiations were at an impasse.
Judge Attempted to Nudge 3M Earplugs Settlement
Back in June 2022, Judge Rodgers ordered 3M earplugs parties to begin settlement mediation. In the order, Judge Rodgers noted that 3M earplugs lawsuits are at a “critical juncture” after three years of extensive litigation. Sixteen bellwether trials have come and gone, so the order argued that both parties had enough evidence to evaluate 3M earplugs claims. Since litigants in 3M earplugs lawsuits collected enough data points to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual and broad claims, the court requested parties to engage in efforts to resolve as many cases as possible.
Aside from the knowledge gained through the bellwether trials, Judge Rodgers noted the need for a settlement to avoid overloading courts. At the time of this order, there were 233,883 plaintiffs in the MDL, and Judge Rodgers expressed concerns over the judicial resources required to address these claims. Randi S. Ellis was appointed settlement master to help parties reach a 3M earplugs settlement, with the first meeting scheduled for July 15.
3M Earplugs Settlement Negotiation Reaches Stalemate
After nearly seven months, Judge Rodgers ended 3M earplugs settlement mediations. Given that neither party is willing to budge on their position, Judge Rodgers deemed further settlement negotiations unproductive. According to Judge Rodgers, 3M is determined to settle the remaining 3M earplugs claims solely through the bankruptcy system and not in her court. Additionally, 3M earplug Plaintiff Leadership advised the court they desired settlement through the MDL, not the bankruptcy court.
3M put its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies, into Chapter 11 bankruptcy following years of litigation and several million-dollar verdicts in favor of plaintiffs. This controversial move halted litigation against Aearo, which also requested this stay on litigation extends to its parent company, 3M. However, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jeffrey Graham rejected applying bankruptcy protection to 3M.
While settlement mediation has officially ceased, Judge Rodgers hopes that as the MDL, bankruptcy, and appeals continue, both parties will finally reach a mutually acceptable settlement.